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Doyle v. People

Supreme Court of Colorado, En Banc

February 17, 2015

Eric Marcus Doyle, Petitioner:
v.
The People of the State of Colorado, Respondent:

Page 962

Certiorari to the Colorado Court of Appeals. Court of Appeals Case No. 11CA1786.

SYLLABUS

Doyle petitioned for review of the court of appeals' judgment affirming his conviction for violating a condition of his bail bond. See People v. Doyle, 2013 COA 68. At the request of the prosecution, the trial court took judicial notice of the fact that defendant Doyle failed to appear in court on a particular day, as mandated by the relevant condition of his bond. The court instructed the jury accordingly, noting that although it need not accept this judicially noticed fact as true, a judicially noticed fact is one which the court has determined to be not the subject of reasonable dispute and one which the court has accepted as true.

The supreme court reversed, holding that because the resolution of a factual matter at issue in a prior judicial proceeding, unlike the occurrence of the legal proceeding or other court action itself, does not become an indisputable fact within the contemplation of CRE 201 merely as a result of being reflected in a court record, the trial court erred in taking judicial notice that the defendant failed to appear in court on a particular day. The supreme court also held that because the jury was instructed that this judicially noticed fact was not subject to reasonable dispute and had already been accepted as true by the court, the error was not harmless, notwithstanding proper admission into evidence of a court record reflecting the court's earlier finding to that effect.

Attorneys for Petitioner: Douglas K. Wilson, Public Defender, Adam Mueller, Deputy Public Defender, Denver, Colorado.

Attorneys for Respondent: Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General, Jillian J. Price, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado.

OPINION

COATS, JUSTICE

Page 963

[¶1] Doyle petitioned for review of the court of appeals' judgment affirming his conviction for violating a condition of his bail bond. See People v. Doyle, 2013 COA 68. At the request of the prosecution, the trial court took judicial notice of the fact that defendant Doyle failed to appear in court on a particular day, as mandated by the relevant condition of his bond. The court instructed the jury accordingly, noting that although it need not accept this judicially noticed fact as true, a judicially noticed fact is one which the court has determined to be not the subject of reasonable dispute and one which the court has accepted as true.

[¶2] Because the resolution of a factual matter at issue in a prior judicial proceeding, unlike the occurrence of the legal proceeding or other court action itself, does not become an indisputable fact within the contemplation of CRE 201 merely as a result of being reflected in a court record, the trial court erred in taking judicial notice that the defendant failed to appear in court on a particular day. Because the jury was instructed that this judicially noticed fact was not subject to reasonable dispute and had already been accepted as true by the court, the error was not harmless, notwithstanding proper admission into evidence of a court record reflecting the court's earlier finding to that effect. The judgment of the court of appeals is therefore reversed and remanded with directions to order a new trial.

I.

[¶3] Eric Doyle was charged with theft and conspiracy to commit theft in connection with an attempt to sell a water pump to a scrap metal processor. A charge of violating a condition of his bail bond, as proscribed by section 18-8-212(1), C.R.S. (2014), was added for failing to appear in court on March 8, 2011, which had been made a condition of his bond from the original charges. The defendant was acquitted of the theft and conspiracy charges but convicted of violating a condition of his bond, for which he was sentenced to a term of twelve months in the custody of the Department of Corrections.

[¶4] On the defendant's motion, trial of the charges was bifurcated, allowing the jury to hear of the charge of violating a bail bond condition only after it had reached a verdict on the theft and conspiracy charges. At the second phase of the bifurcated trial, the prosecution offered a single exhibit, which included certified copies of the defendant's appearance bond, indicating as the primary condition of the bond that the defendant appear in court on March 8, 2011; a waiver of extradition, signed by the defendant and notarized by a deputy sheriff; and finally a notice of bail forfeiture directed to the defendant's surety company, notifying the surety that " on 03/08/2011 because of [the defendant's] failure to appear in accordance with ...


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